Ellison Bluff, Door Bluff Headlands Nominated for Old-Growth Forest Network

Ellison Bluff State Natural Area and Door Bluff Headlands, both county parks in Liberty Grove, were nominated for inclusion in the national Old-Growth Forest Network. The nonprofit organization seeks to connect people to nature by creating a national network of publicly accessible, protected old forests and a network of people to help care for them.

In return, and with no costs associated with the designation and no obligations, “we would add one more layer of protection to our county parks,” said Tim Kazmierczak, Door County parks manager.

Kazmierczak spoke during the Aug. 9 meeting of the Door County Highway and Facilities Committee, where members unanimously voted to accept the designation.

Door Bluff Headlands County Park in Liberty Grove near Gills Rock is the largest county park in Door County. It has 252 forested acres, including 6,800 feet of shoreline. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

In a memo to the committee, Kazmierczak wrote that some of the trees in the two county parks are noted as the largest and oldest in the state of Wisconsin.  

“For example, there is a cedar (arborvitae species) tree in Ellison Bluff that is dated to be over 250 years old,” he wrote. 

Both places will become a forest destination for large tree specimens, Kazmierczak said, and Nick Sanchez, the nonprofit’s network manager and a certified forester, is expected to visit Door County for a celebration and tour of the properties. 

“This is primarily a public recognition celebrating the unique values specific to old forests, and an opportunity to interpret and showcase your stewardship,” Sanchez wrote in his nomination letter to the county.

The organization’s goal is to identify and recognize one location in each forested county across the country.

“We also help people learn more about the area and provide a recommended access point by maintaining our national map and forest profile for each location,” Sanchez said. 

Ellison Bluff County Park, which is also a State Natural Area, is located in Ellison Bay and is the County of Door’s second-largest park. White cedar, Canada yew, mountain maple, red pine, basswood and red elderberry grow on the sheer face of the cliffs, anchoring their roots in small crevices with little soil. There is no access to the water because the bluff is in excess of 100 feet and parallels the shoreline throughout the entire park.

The forest network typically highlights easy to moderate trails that provide access to protected areas where there may be old growth or where old forest characteristics are developing. There are currently only six other locations in Wisconsin that have been designated: Muskego Park in Waukesha County, Kurtz Woods in Ozaukee County, Sanders Park in Racine County, Plum Lake Hemlock Forest in Vilas County, Holmboe Conifer Forest in Oneida County, and Cathedral Pines in Oconto County.

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